Sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of postpartum depression, not to mention cause for more frustration, problems with your marriage, and making you more susceptible to illness. Having a new baby in your life will inevitably lead to sleep deprivation. Babies need to eat frequently since their little tummies don’t hold all that much at one time. Most babies will eat every 2-3 hours, some more frequently than others. It is hard to get an adequate amount of sleep when you have to be up to feed the baby so often, especially if you try to stick with the old pattern of only sleeping at night. With a new baby in your life you’ll quickly learn the golden rule, sleep when the baby sleeps.
Here are a few tricks you can try to help you get more sleep even if the baby is up all the time to eat.
- Pump so feedings can be shared with your partner. Having some expressed breast milk available for one of the night time feedings means that your partner can get up to feed the baby and you can sleep for a longer stretch. Or you can do the one night on one night off routine where you take one night of getting up with the baby and your partner takes the next, so you can get a full nights sleep. Eventually the baby will start sleeping longer stretches at night anyway (hopefully) and believe it or not will eventually sleep through the night!
- If the baby needs to rock in order to stay asleep consider purchasing a rocking cradle and placing it next to the bed so you can just reach out with your hand and rock the baby. This way you can avoid actually getting out of bed every time to rock the baby. This won’t work all the time but it will help. You may not be able to sleep fully during this time but at least you will be resting.
- Put the baby in his own room. Babies are noisy when they sleep and can often disrupt your sleep when you share the same room. If you find you can’t really sleep with the baby in the room with you consider putting her in her own room and using a monitor. This does mean you have to get up and go into her room when she is wakes up to eat but it also means you will have a little better sleep in between feedings.
- The opposite of course is sleeping in the same room. By co-sleeping you can avoid getting all the way up when the baby wakes up at night to eat. You can simply sit up in bed change his diaper, feed him, and then go back to sleep.
- Go to bed when the baby goes to bed. If you know she eats at 9pm and then usually sleeps for 4 hours or so, go to bed when she does. If you stay up you are wasting valuable sleep time.
- Nap when the baby naps during the day. Instead of worrying about the chores that need to be done worry about getting enough sleep instead. At least once during the day take a nap when the baby does. You’ll find this works wonders for giving you a little energy boost.
There are many ways you can ensure at least some semblance of adequate sleep while your baby is little (or anytime your child isn’t sleeping through the night). Above are just a few of the ways you can get more sleep. Every woman is different and what works for one may not work for the next. Try out a few things until you find something that works for you and your family. If you are feeling extremely tired, frustrated or depressed talk to your caregiver as these may be signs of postpartum depression.